Consultation begins on church closures

The Church of Scotland is launching an online consultation for people to comment about the future of 20 kirks earmarked for closure.

The chance for people to make their views known follows the approval on Saturday of the newly united Aberdeen and Shetland Presbytery’s 10-year plan.

The consultation follows the announcement made by the Rev Ian Murray in October 2018 that only 11 out of 31 Church of Scotland buildings would be retained in Shetland.

We are concerned that communities need to have their say on what’s going to happen to our church buildings when they are sold …

The Rev Dr Fran Henderson

Prior to the coronavirus lockdown a series of public meetings were due to be held throughout this year. They were aimed at informing communities about the process around the closure of their local church, and the future options for the buildings.

Unfortunately only the Sand Church event, on the West Side on Thursday 12th March was able to take place.

As a result the Rev Fran Henderson, transition minister for the Shetland parish, has now invited all interested people to take part in an online buildings consultation to ensure all views are reflected.

Dr Henderson said: “Ideally, we would have had face-to-face public community meetings about the upcoming closures, but unfortunately only one – at Sand Church – was able to go ahead due to the lockdown measures.

“We are concerned that communities need to have their say on what’s going to happen to our church buildings when they are sold, so we have therefore moved our public consultation online.

“No guarantees can be made, but alongside our legal duties as charity trustees, all suggestions and requests received will be taken fully into consideration as we make decisions about the future of these buildings and their contents.”

The newly launched buildings consultation surveys are composed of 10 questions each, with some slight variations according to local circumstances. They are open to all interested community members.

The first round of surveys to launch, coinciding with the first phase (2020-21) of the closures, are: St Ninian’s Church in Bigton; the Weisdale kirk; the Fetlar kirk; the Sullom kirk; the Fair Isle kirk; St Magnus Church at Hamnavoe, South Yell; and the Quarff kirk.

The full list of survey links is available at

These surveys will close at midnight on Monday 17th August while more will launch in the coming months.


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